- You should poop as often as three times a day to as little as three times a week.
- Your poops are probably normal if it feels like you’ve emptied your bowels and your poop is solid.
- For regular bowel movements, increase your fiber intake and drink plenty of water.
- Visit Insider’s Health Reference library for more advice.
Whether or not you speak openly about it, everybody poops. Even though some people are embarrassed to talk about their bathroom habits, it’s important to know about digestive health, like how often you should poop, so you can identify what’s abnormal and when to see a doctor.
Here’s what you need to know about how often you should poop, factors that affect your bathroom frequency, and how to have more regular poops.
How often should you poop?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer for how often you should poop. Every person is different.
“‘Normal’ bowel movements are generally considered to be up to three times daily, and as infrequent as three times a week,” says Jesse P. Houghton, MD, FACG, Senior Medical Director of Gastroenterology at SOMC Gastroenterology Associates.
That’s exactly what a 2010 study of adults between the ages of 18 and 70 found:
- 98% of participants had poops anywhere from three times a day to three times a week
- Broken down, 77% were normal, 12% hard, and 10% loose
That said, it’s important to note that some people will poop more than three times a day or less than three times a week, and it can still be “normal” for them, Houghton says. It’s when you start to experience changes in the frequency of your poops that may indicate something’s up.
- It feels like you’ve completely emptied your bowels.
- The consistency of your poops is formed, meaning solid poops and not diarrhea.
Factors that affect your pooping frequency
Various factors can affect how often you poop. Some examples are:
- Age: Constipation is more common as you get older. This is due to slowing contractions of the colon and decreased amount of water in the colon, says Houghton.
- Medications: Taking medications is one of the most common reasons for constipation today, says Farhadi. Some examples of these medications are:
- Certain antidepressants
- Certain antacids
- Certain painkillers
- Certain high blood pressure medications
- Activity level: If you don’t exercise often and are relatively immobile, you may be more likely to get constipated, says Farhadi. This is because immobility can slow down the bowels.
- Diet: Diet plays a huge role in your bowel movements. If your diet is low in fiber, this can contribute to constipation, says Houghton. This is because fiber helps to keep your digestive tract moving. On the other hand, if you suddenly change your diet and begin eating a lot more fiber, you may notice that you poop more frequently than before, Farhadi says. Fiber-rich foods include whole grain products, fruits, and vegetables.
- Stress: Periods of high stress or anxiety can affect your poops, and it can go either way, resulting in either constipation or more frequent poops, and possibly even diarrhea, says Farhadi.
Tips for regularity
If you want more regular bowel movements, there are a few lifestyle changes you can make, such as:
- Increasing your fiber intake: Eating more fiber-rich foods can help prevent both constipation and diarrhea by bulking up and solidifying your stool. Houghton recommends aiming for at least 30 milligrams of fiber a day. If you’re having trouble getting all your fiber from your diet, you can also use fiber supplements that you can sprinkle on top of or into your food, says Farhadi.
- Taking probiotics: Probiotics support overall gut health by supporting healthy “good” bacteria in your gut, says Farhadi. They can help treat diarrhea, particularly if it’s caused by an infection or antibiotics. They can also prevent constipation by improving the consistency and increasing the frequency of your poops.
- Drinking plenty of water: Since dehydration can lead to constipation, Houghton says you should drink plenty of water to ensure you aren’t dehydrated and in turn, your poops will be softer and easier to pass.
- Getting more exercise: Houghton says you should aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise three to four times a week to keep your body, and bowels, healthy. Increased mobility can also help increase muscle activity in your intestines, which may lead to more regular poops.
“Normal” pooping frequency looks different for every individual, but the average person likely poops anywhere from three times a day to three times a week.
Know what’s normal for you, so that you can notice when any changes are occurring. And be sure to see a doctor if your poops change drastically or if you’re noticing any red-flag symptoms.